Oval has made the first of four slated buys in early 2008 with the acquisition of East-Anglian broker, A J Cook, known as Cook Sheppard Pinhey.

Ipswich-based Cook Sheppard Pinhey, which has an annual GWP of around £17m and employs over 50 staff, is Oval's first buy in the region.

In November Oval upped its aquisition war chest by £15m to £68m. It has plans to raise up to £50m more this year to fund acquisitions as it pursues a revenue target of £140m by July.

Oval has made a total of 26 acquisitions since its founding in October 2003, including 15 last year.

Oval managing director Jeff Herdman said: “Cook Sheppard Pinhey is an extremely professional and long established firm that has developed close relationships with its clients and a wide range of insurers. We are delighted that the company has joined the Oval group.”

Peter Bradbeer, director at Cook Sheppard Pinhey, added: “We feel that Oval is closely aligned to our values. As the market hardens, Oval will provide security for our clients and an even wider range of services and expertise.”

Cook Sheppard Pinhey specialises in commercial lines insurance including the professions, construction, transport, motor trade, food and retail.